Fibromyalgia/CFS/ME – Healing Mind, Body & Spirit

Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) & Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) often go hand in hand, they also seem to be conditions that people who have been in pressurised jobs or are high achievers, but not exclusively. Regardless of how you have found yourself struggling with either of these conditions, you do have some measure of control, so let’s take a look at how you can heal yourself.

Diet

Inflammatory Foods; These should be avoided as they inflame the body which brings a host of other problems to the table & puts s tress on the body, it does not need any more stress right now! Eat fresh food and drinks, avoid processed food, our bodies are not designed to digest it.

Water – Ensure you are hydrated, 2L is the nutritional benchmark of how much water we need every day, this can come from food too. If you are exercising or it is hot you may need more than this.

Food Tracking – Keep a diary of what you are eating and when, there may be foods that set off your symptoms, similarly there may be foods that ease them. Many people with Fibro, CFS & ME also have IBS symptoms (35-90%) so keep an eye for that.

Working on the solar plexus chakra is good here, this is the seat of the emotion & the psychic energy, stress & emotional upset will affect the organs in this area hence why IBS is a stress related condition.

Play with your food items – With these conditions, many people find that gluten aggravates them, others notice nothing, definitely avoid processed foods, refined sugar and other foods which give little nutritionally. If you do find that gluten is an issue, check any medication, there are a high number of drugs that contain gluten, in which case your medication may actually be making you ill!  You may need as long as a month to clear a food or drug from your system or for your body to adjust to any new foods introduced by you.

Caffeine – It is NOT a friend to people with CFS or Fibromyalgia, keep intake to a minimum or eliminate it if you can. Anything that gives you an energy rush is likely to give you an energy low, whilst on the high, you are most likely to overdo things because you have a false energy level – you’ll pay for it later!

Meal Size – Often, eating a big meal can actually be too exhausting, when we eat the body sends its energy to focus on digesting it which makes us feel tired, (hence the mid-afternoon slump after a big meal) so try to eat little and often or graze through the day.

Eat The Rainbow – Eat all the colours of the rainbow; red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo & violet – these foods will give us what we need to repair & revitalise the body – beige foods won’t! Most processed foods are beige or covered in food colouring! Instead, eat lots of fruit and veg, smoothies or juices are good for getting volume rather than looking at a plate of fruit or veg. If you struggle to get your full nutrition intake, especially if you are vegetarian or vegan, make sure you have supplements to boost your nutrients.

Sleep – Aim to get as much sleep as possible, if you need an afternoon nap, that’s fine, the human body is wired to do it. The medical profession recommends 8 hours every night. It needs to be quality sleep though so avoid alcohol at night.

Alcohol – this is a stimulant for some people and a depressant for others, it is also a food that can cause inflammation so you might want to remove it from your diet, try monitoring the effects and go from there.

Listen to Your Body – You will have good days and bad days, the worst thing you can do is cram your diary and then push your body to cope with it all, you’ll pay for it later, if you can even get going in the first place! Slow things down, rest where possible, even if just whilst you have a cup of tea. If you are your own boss, keep control of your diary, I don’t think it looks professional to constantly cancel appointments and events. If you work for an employer, you will be less likely to have days off sick if you don’t do too much when you are in or drag yourself to work when you should be resting & make yourself even more ill. If you are  able to set expectations in advance with work, family, friends, events, etc, then great, not everyone has that luxury, instead they feel committed to doing it because they said they would! I’d be really annoyed with myself if I did half a job with a reading or a coaching client, because I put too much in the diary.

Exercise – gentle but regular exercise is good for you; our bodies need us to move to fire the lymph system and to help the organs detox and work efficiently. If you are not one for exercise, think of it as movement – walking, pottering in the garden, yoga, going to the gym etc, whatever it is, if it gets you moving it is good.

Meditation – this allows your body to switch off from stress, you’d think just sitting on the sofa not doing anything would not be stressful, and that that is you chilling out, you’d be surprised though! How often do you sit on the sofa or lie in bed thinking about all the things you should be doing? Thinking about the people you love and their problems? Scrolling the news or social media? Anything you think about causes a reaction in the body – think about lying on a sun-drenched beach, your body will respond to that, think about sitting on a packed train commuting to work, your body will respond to it – it can’t differentiate between real and imagined. Meditation focuses your mind on calming down, destressing and letting go, so aim to do this daily. If you have a Fitbit or similar fitness watch, use the meditation function or set the alarms to remind you to do it or you might want to use the alarm facility on your phone. There are plenty of apps like Calm that will help you to meditate too.

Mindset – the way you think is a huge part of the reality you have, if you keep telling yourself ‘I have no energy’ or ‘I can’t do this’ then that is the reality you will have, really work to change the mindset to ‘I can do’, the can do attitude will tell your body that you are willing & able, now it might be that you are slow to walk for 20 minutes, but you can work on walking further and faster in that 20 minutes rather than not doing it at all.

If you tell your body, you have energy and do all the points I already mentioned above, your body will find the energy. In coaching if someone says ‘I can’t’ such as ‘I can’t do exercise, I don’t have time’ we respond with prompts such as ‘If I had a gun against your head, could you find the time?’ The answer 99% of the time is yes, so really what that person is saying to me is ‘It is not a priority for me’ so they need to look at how they plan to get fit or lose weight if they are not going to prioritise the exercise. So, the mindset of ‘can’t’ tells your body not to do it, so you are fighting with yourself, give yourself permission to have a go, your body will respond positively. The mind, truly is in control.

If you were in a burning building, you’d find the energy to crawl out, it is hugely important to work on all the aspects I’ve talked about in this blog, getting well is not about one aspect, it is not about getting medication from the doctor until your body wakes up one day and says ‘Oh, I’m better, I don’t need the medication anymore’. I know this because I have been there, I have got well, use this road to recovery, and it can be yours too.

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